Recently, the family spent a day together visiting downtown Chicago. One of the things we planned was a visit to the top of the John Hancock building, which rises 1,127 feet from the heart of the shopper’s paradise known as Michigan Avenue.
For those of you who haven’t been to Chicago, it’s a city with a remarkable concentration of skyscrapers. In fact, 4 of the 7 tallest buildings in the United States are in Chicago. The John Hancock building comes in at #4 in the city, but offers arguably the best views, with a clear look at Lake Michigan, and the city in all directions.
We got to the observation area on the 94th floor, and then proceeded to take in the views. It was a real thrill for me, despite having seen this several times in my life, because I got to take my 7-year old for her first visit to a true skyscraper.
As I was excitedly showing her all the sights, such as the lake, and all the rooftops, and how you could squint and see Michigan across the lake – I then pointed to the tallest building in Chicago. “See that”, I exclaimed, “That’s the Sears Tower!”
“No it’s not”, my daughter calmly said.
“Sure it is, sweetheart”, I said. “It’s the tall black building over there”.
Then – to my surprise – she said, “It’s the Willis Tower. It used to be the Sears Tower but now it’s the Willis Tower.”
“Well, I like to call it the Sears Tower”, I said. “You can call it the Willis Tower if you want to.”
“Why do you want to call it the Sears Tower when that’s not its name anymore?” she then asked.
I had to stop and think about that. Why would anyone call this building by an old name? Well, the building was called the Sears Tower from its opening in 1974. From the time I was a kid, I had always known that the tallest building in the United States was the 1,451-foot tall Sears Tower. But on July 16, 2009, after 35 years of being known as the Sears Tower, this iconic building was officially renamed the Willis Tower.
It dawned on me that I was totally holding on to what was familiar, what fit into my comfortable view of things. Clearly, for many in my generation, that building is the Sears Tower; it’s what we know. But to a whole new generation of people, it’s the Willis Tower. For now, that is. It could be altogether something else in the future, who knows. But it’s no longer the Sears Tower.
As I think about this, I wonder just how often we hold on to old beliefs, clinging to what makes us comfortable, because we are resistant to change.
Could this apply to personal finance?
I think it could, in many situations.
- Clinging to old views on real estate: “you won’t lose money on a home over time, homes are always a sound investment”
- Holding on to investments too long: “I know this stock has dropped, but I don’t want to sell it until it comes back up in value”
- Staying with the same job too long: “My employer will always take care of me”
- Resistance to learning about new techniques: “I don’t want to pay any bills online – I only want the old-fashioned way of writing checks”
- Refusing to explore diverse investment opportunities: “I’ll just stick to what I already know”
Things change, and we have to adapt to the times. It’s important to keep our core values and beliefs, but also accept that it’s important to keep an open mind and learn at all times. These positive, open traits can lead to a more positive orientation toward wealth preservation and creation.
What do you think? In the world of personal finance, do you know anyone who sticks to long-time beliefs, but could benefit from fresh thinking and an open mind?